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    Restarting The Grand Adventure

    Away We Go On International Travel

    Location: Iceland

    Not everyone is ready yet to travel….and not every country is ready to accept international travelers. But after 13 and a half months stuck in the USA, we are ready to go. So many of you have been asking about our plans, so today I thought I would share with you how we are restarting the Grand Adventure.

    The Grand Adventure which began in 2016 has evolved over time and will continue to evolve as we mitigate a new world. We may never again be able to flit from country to country the way we did before, but with planning, caution and ingenuity we think we can have a travel life full of adventure and intrigue.

    Restarting The Grand Adventure

    After abandoning our travels mid-itinerary in spring 2020, this week we embark on our first international trip. During our time in the USA we have done a lot of travel to eight different states. But this will be our first trip out of the USA since April 30, 2020.

    We fly this week to Iceland for a two-week adventure. No tour, just on our own, using the Rick Steves Iceland Guide. Our visit includes three days in Reykjavik, then nine days in a camper van exploring the island. We have visited Iceland before, but only for two short days so we have always wanted to go back. Iceland seems like a safe place for restarting the Grand Adventure.

    Summer and Fall

    After two weeks in Iceland we will return to Washington State for the rest of the summer, as summer is the best time of year to be here in the Pacific Northwest. We have a couple of short excursions planned within the state as well as a trip to Maine in early September.

    On September 20th we fly back to Maui where we will stay in the apartment of a friend who will be off island for six weeks and then two additional weeks in an Airbnb. Then we fly to Los Angeles before heading on to Arizona and the Grand Canyon. Next we have a trip to Mexico City for a Taco Tour (no joke, a whole week of eating tacos with a guide) and on to Oaxaca before returning to Washington to spend Christmas with our family.

    2022 Away We Go

    January and February will be spent in French Polynesia. OMG yes it will. First time there so I’m really excited. We will spend two months on the island of Moorea as a big step towards restarting the Grand Adventure.

    March is still unplanned but we tentatively hope to fly back to Washington, say hi to the fam, repack and reorganize and then, embark to Israel and restart the itinerary we abandoned, almost two years to the day in March 2020. We have not booked that yet…we will wait and watch and keep our fingers crossed that the world will find its way and we can find our way back to the retirement life we were living and had always dreamed of.

    Follow Along

    I plan to continue to blog until its not fun anymore so keep following and we will tell you what we are doing. Finding us on Instagram is a great way to get daily updates and beautiful and fun photos and videos. We love your interest and are grateful. Cheers to all of you for your continued support!

    Cheers!

    I’ve learned a lot of things from living in the PanDamit, mostly to be more patient and flexible. Additionally I’ve learned there are a lot of crazy people and I just need to keep my head down and do the things I believe in, without judging even when I am being judged. Like I’ve said before, I absolutely refuse to be a victim in all of this. Instead I am searching for the learning opportunities and growing each and everyday from this life we are handed. It is still a fabulous life. And if our adventures help others make the step forward cautiously into the brave new world, then our work here is done.

    Join us on Instagram here.

    Iceland here we come! Learn about Iceland’s Covid restrictions here.

    See last Friday’s blog post My Favorite Gardens Around the World

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    Inspire

    My Favorite Gardens Around the World

    Enjoying Gardenss for Education and Beauty

    In our travels we have been blessed to visit a lot of gardens; botanical gardens, native gardens, home gardens, arboretums…even sculpture gardens. Fun and educational, I always look for these places in cities and countries as we travel. So today I will share with you My Favorite Gardens Around the World.

    singapore
    Singapore

    I sat down and tried to remember all the gardens we have seen. Because I enjoy gardening back in my home state of Washington in the USA, I always want to check out gardens in other places. My husband also enjoys looking at gardens, especially ones with native species we may not be familiar with. Lately Arne and I have become amateur bird watchers, and my favorite gardens around the world are always a great place to see birds.

    My Favorite Gardens Around the World

    As I have been working on my own tiny garden this spring I’ve been dreaming of starting to travel again and some of the world’s most beautiful gardens have been floating through my head…and thus this idea to blog about them has bloomed. I don’t have photos of all my favorite gardens around the world, but I do hope in your own travels you can find your way to some of these enchanting locations….some big, some small, all beautiful.

    In no particular order, here are my favorite gardens around the world.

    United States

    Palm Springs, California – I enjoyed our recent seven week visit to Palm Springs area where we particularly enjoyed learning about the flora of the desert at the tiny Moorten Botanical Gardens and Sunnylands. Sunnylands is one of my all time favorite gardens anywhere.

    Palm Springs
    Palm Springs

    Tucson, Arizona – Our recent two weeks in Tucson had us falling in love with this area, including the Tucson Botanical Gardens and the Arizona Sonora Living Desert Museum, our favorite thing in Tucson.

    Phoenix, Arizona – the Desert Botanical Gardens in Phoenix is not large but it is laid out beautifully and makes a beautiful and interesting garden to stroll through.

    Sunnylands
    Palm Springs
    Phoenix

    Portland, Oregon – The Portland Japanese Gardens is one of the most unexpected gardens I have ever been to. A hidden gem right in the heart of beautiful Portland Oregon

    Seattle, Washington – Volunteer Park Conservatory. I have only been here once, and it was on a blustery cold winter day, and stepping into this warm and alluring conservatory was a perfect activity for a winter day. I loved everything about this place and hope to return soon.

    Spokane, Washington – Manito Park and Botanical Gardens is one of my most favorite things to do when visiting Spokane. The sprawling park offers so much plant beauty, including a Japanese Garden and a beautiful Rose Garden.

    Spokane

    Boston, Massachusetts – Boston Public Gardens is the oldest botanical gardens in the USA and offers 24 acres of beauty to stroll through in any season. One of my favorite Boston sites in a town full of amazing sites.

    Kula Hawaii
    Kula

    Kula, Maui, Hawaii – Kula Botanic Gardens is a hidden gem on the slopes of Haleakala. I visited this privately owned garden for the first time this past year and it was such a pleasant surprise. Don’t miss this hidden gem when you visit Maui

    Bainbridge Island, Washington – practically in my own back yard, Bloedel Reserve is a 150 acre historic property and gardens whose mission is to enrich people’s lives through a premier public garden of natural and designed Pacific Northwest landscapes. Timed entrance tickets available online.

    Bloedel Reserve

    San Marino, California – The Huntington Botanical Gardens is so much more than just spectacular gardens. This historic site is home to an Art Museum, Library, events and lectures…and of course one of the most beautiful gardens in the USA.

    Huntington

    Canada

    Victoria British Columbia – The Butchart Gardens is one of the most outstanding gardens anywhere in the world. No matter the season, it is a jaw dropping and magnificent 55 acres to behold.

    Butchart Gardens

    Montreal Quebec – Jardin Botanique de Montreal was not on our radar when we set out to visit beautiful Montreal, we fortunately just stumbled upon it. We were there in the fall and it was truly first class, one of my favorite gardens ever.

    Montreal

    Australia

    Sydney – Royal Botanic Gardens Sydney we only had four days to explore the beautiful city of Sydney and we made the most of our time from beach to hiking, performance and food. But one of our favorite discoveries was these phenomenal gardens, home to both flora, fauna and feathers.

    Sydney

    Singapore

    Singapore – Gardens by the Bay. Amazing. I could have spent a week in this place, an astonishing futuristic garden in one of the most astonishing cities in the world. The super tree structures and skywalk were incredible (especially at night) but my favorite was the cloud forest and flower dome. Worth a trip to Singapore just to see this.

    Singapore

    Mauritius

    Pamplemousses – Sir Seewoosagur Ramgoolam Botanical Gardens. Often referred to as the SSR Botanical Gardens, this beautiful garden is named for Sir Seewoosagur Ramgoolam, Mauritius’ first Prime Minister and a leader in Mauritius independence. The gardens were begun in the late 1700’s during the French occupation and today incorporates fruits, flowers and trees from all over the world in its 33 hectare site.

    Mauritius

    Sri Lanka

    Kandy – Royal Botanical Gardens. Our visit to Sri Lanka was so wonderful and this country remains one of our favorites. The Royal Botanical Gardens in Kandy is one of three botanical gardens in the country – each unique. This garden was beautiful, very large and home to a great many species of trees, flowering plants, orchids, birds and bats.

    Kandy

    China

    Shanghai – Shanghai Botanical Gardens is the largest botanical garden in all of China. It encompasses more than 81 hectares and includes beautiful strolling paths and water features as well as thousands of trees, flowers, shrubs and more. Shanghai is a beautiful city, so different from Beijing.

    Shanghai

    Israel

    Haifa – Baha’i Hanging Gardens this was a surprising place in the heart of Haifa. These gardens aren’t actually “hanging” but the crawl up the hill and present a spectacular site for many vantage points. The gardens are the home to the shrines where the founders of the Baha’i faith are buried. A site to see.

    Touring gardens when you travel provides a peek into local culture and customs, while also enriching with beauty and education. I encourage you to support these beautiful places everywhere you go.

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    See last week’s fun post A Passion for Coffee in Gig Harbor.

    See this week’s top performing pin here Nashville for First Timers.

    Reading Wednesday

    Book Review The Elephant of Belfast by S. Kirk Walsh

    Reading Wednesday

    And another World War II book! BUT wait! This one has a very different twist. Yep, an elephant. Here is my book review The Elephant of Belfast by S. Kirk Walsh.

    In the fall of 1940 young zookeeper Hettie Quin’s dream comes true as she is put in charge of a recently orphaned elephant new to the Belfast zoo. But the winds of war are blowing and a world war rages in Europe while another war simmers at home. Tensions are escalating between British Loyalist and those fighting for a free Ireland as Germany begins a blitz on Belfast.

    Walsh uses a nearly forgotten real life event to create the story of Hettie and the Elephant known as Violet. War through the eyes of an animal and a young girl, both who have lost so much, will lose even more, and desperately need each other to survive.

    I really enjoyed this book, both for the indelible bond between Hettie and Violet and the look at a region devastated by Hitler that rarely gets notice in novels. But mostly this book is about how animals and humans can save each other, in so many ways.

    *****Five stars for The Elephant of Belfast by S. Kirk Walsh.

    Read last week’s review of The Rose Code by Kate Quinn

    My current read The Lions of Fifth Avenue.

    See this weeks top performing Book Review Pin The Beekeeper of Aleppo here.

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    Inspire

    A Passion for Coffee in Gig Harbor

    More Than a Beverage it’s a Hobby Turned Small Business

    Location: Gig Harbor Washington USA

    Zach Tanner loves coffee. That may not seem that unusual, especially in the Pacific Northwest where coffee is a cultural phenom. But Zach doesn’t just love to drink coffee. Oh no. Coffee is so much more; an inspiration; a fascination; a hobby turned small business. Zach has a passion for coffee in Gig Harbor.

    Milkman Coffee
    Zach Tanner proud coffee roaster

    As many of you know I am a coffee-lover. In fact when I travel, tasting coffee around the world is one of the highlights for me; exploring the big wide and diverse world of rich dark coffee. Check out the blog I wrote last year My Favorite Coffee Around the World to learn more.

    So when I heard about Zach and his passion for coffee in Gig Harbor I was intrigued. Then I tasted it and I was amazed.

    After graduating from Montana State University Zach Tanner spent a number of years living the California film industry dream. But eventually Zach and his wife made their way back to the Pacific Northwest to start a family, settling in a private oasis rural home in Gig Harbor. While working at the Gig Harbor YMCA and being a dad, Zach found time on the side to have a tiny little coffee roaster and play with roasting and observation of beans and flavors.

    Green coffee beans
    The Green Beans are organic

    Then came Covid. Zach lost his job and turned his focus to home-schooling his kids. And roasting coffee. A bigger roaster, more research, a computer program, lots of experimentation, trial and error, more evaluation, a brainstorm session for a business name and boom. Milkman Coffee was born in Zach’s garage.

    Milkman Coffee
    The name came from the delivery bottles he used in the beginning.

    Zach gets the “green” beans from four different vendors, only organic non-pesticide beans. How the beans are sourced is really important to this coffee aficionado, and when possible his passion extends to women-run coffee bean co-ops in places like Ethiopia. Zach uses beans from many parts of the world including Uganda, Guatemala, Columbia, and Ethiopia.

    Milkman Coffee
    The roaster, each batch roasts for ten minutes

    Usually Zach’s roasts are single origin, but he will blend beans from multiple sources to get just the right flavor profile he is looking for. Don’t misunderstand though…these aren’t flavored coffees. But Zach approaches the taste and aroma of the beans and the final cup of coffee similar to a wine connoisseur; pointing out natural flavor notes in each batch such as vanilla, tobacco, fruit and mineral. Each bag of Milkman lists Zach’s flavor notes.

    Milkman Coffee
    The roasting is controlled by computer and information on each batch is saved for future reference

    While Zach continues to put his dad duties first, he hopes to expand Milkman Coffee. Short term goals include a website and social media presence. Long range goals include getting into small markets and farmers markets. But right now this one-man operation hand-delivers the beans to customers in the Gig Harbor area who sign up for regular delivery. Roasted beans are $15 a pound or $20 for a pound and a half.

    Milkman Coffee

    A passion for coffee in Gig Harbor. Hand-made, delivered fresh and full of flavor. That’s what Zach Tanner is all about with his small coffee roasting business Milkman Coffee. Want to support small business and drink some incredible, organic coffee? Shoot Zach an email at zlt13@icloud.com.

    We love it when you pin and share our blog posts.

    Want to learn more about the history of coffee? See it here.

    See last week’s post It’s Time to Rediscover Ballard Washington here.

    Reading Wednesday

    Book Review The Rose Code by Kate Quinn

    This is the third novel by Kate Quinn that I have enjoyed. Last summer I read both The Alice Network and The Huntress. Quinn is known for her historical fiction, focusing on female heroines during World War II. The Rose Code follows that same pattern. Here is my Book Review The Rose Code by Kate Quinn.

    The code breakers of Bletchley Park played a critical role for the the allies during WWII. Hidden in plain site in the the unassuming area of Buckinghamshire about an hour outside of London, the code breakers, mostly women, took an oath of secrecy. Their important work would remain secret well into the 21st century.

    Quinn uses real characters who were code breakers to mold the fictional characters in The Rose Code. The main characters in this novel are three women, from three very different backgrounds who are thrown together in the war effort, each playing an important role in the successful outcome of the war. The three women; Mab, Osla and Beth form a deep bond, only to be challenged by secrecy, love, death, espionage, family ties and most of all the oath they swore to uphold for life.

    Curiously for me, one of the main characters in this book is Prince Phillip, the late husband of Queen Elizabeth. Coincidentally I started this book on the day Prince Phillip died in April. I learned through this book that Phillip was seriously involved in real life with a women named Osla, prior to his engagement to Princess Elizabeth. Quinn uses this storyline in her book and it makes for an interesting history piece.

    I enjoyed this book and Quinn’s talent for story telling, combining fact and fiction. She is a genius at historical fiction and opens our eyes once again to the important role women played in taking Hitler down.

    *****Five Stars for The Rose Code by Kate Quinn.

    Read last week’s review of West with Giraffes

    My current read The Wife Upstairs

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    See our top performing Book Review pin here Klara and the Sun

    At Home  --  North America Travel

    Yah Sure YaBetcha – It’s Time to Rediscover Ballard Washington

    Location: Ballard Washington

    Please check websites for Covid 19 hours and restrictions before you make time to rediscover Ballard Washington

    Only a few decades ago, sleepy Ballard was the butt of all Scandinavian jokes. A neighborhood of working class families descended from working class immigrants, Ballard was solid, if a bit rough around the edges. Times have changed and It’s Time to Rediscover Ballard Washington.

    Sleepy No More

    I sure wish I had bought a house in Ballard back then. I’d be a millionaire today. Today, Ballard is hip. A cool place to be for young singles and families….without losing that solid working class vibe. Still home to much of the Seattle area fishing fleet, the history of fishing and shipbuilding runs deep in this community.

    Shilshole Bay Ballard
    View from Sunset Park

    What a difference a few decades make. Ballard is blooming and is now not only home to the magnificent Nordic Heritage Museum (opened in 2018), it is also a culinary Mecca – home to dozens of highly rated restaurants, some difficult to get a reservation for. Ballard, sleepy no more. I love a lot of my home state, and Ballard is one of my favorite places among those.

    It’s Time to Rediscover Ballard, Washington

    A day in Ballard is a pleasant idea….but even better why not a weekend or several days? There is so much to do here, without ever actually going into downtown Seattle. Beautiful Ballard. We want you to give it the time it deserves, so we share with you a wide variety of our favorite Ballard finds…everything from beer to parks, coffee to fish, and hiking to vintage. Yah sure yabetcha – it’s time to rediscover Ballard, Washington.

    One of the friendly locals

    Our Recommendations to Get You Started

    It’s a long, long list but we hope these recommendations will give you a variety of reasons to visit Ballard and it’s surrounding neighborhoods. If you can make your visit more than a day, we recommend the beautiful boutique hotel in the heart of Ballard, The Hotel Ballard. It’s exceptional and will make your visit to Ballard exceptional. And here are more recommendations for you;

    Let’s Eat!

    Stoneburner Restaurant Ballard
    Stoneburner is my fav

    It’s impossible to list all the delicious and innovative dining options in Ballard…so I am offering up here my favs. These are all restaurants I have eaten at and would not hesitate to go back to.

    Walrus and the Carpenter Ballard
    Oysters at The Walrus and the Carpenter
    1. Stoneburner – amazing food. Probably my favorite restaurant in Ballard
    2. The Walrus and the Carpenter – one of the best restaurants in Seattle. Reservations a must.
    3. Rays Boathouse – a Seattle area institution, with stunning water views.
    4. Portage Bay Cafe – often a wait for breakfast or lunch but always worth it.
    5. La Carte de Oaxaco – what real Mexican food should taste like.
    6. Red Mill Burgers – old school burger joint with outdoor seating or take away
    7. Lil Woody’s – another great burger and sandwich option…try the salmon burger
    8. Hot Cakes – it’s all about the chocolate here.
    9. Shiku Japanese – excellent sushi and Japanese specialties
    Little Woody's Ballard
    Salmon Burger from Lil Woody’s

    Get Outside

    For such a compact neighborhood of Seattle, Ballard is blessed with an abundance of parks, and a visit to beautiful Ballard wouldn’t be complete without a visit to at least one of Ballard’s parks. This is a list of our favorites.

    Discovery Park Ballard
    Discovery Park
    1. Discovery Park – the granddaddy of them all, this 534 acre park is a hidden natural gem.
    2. Golden Gardens – where the sunbathers, stand up paddle boarders, wind surfers, sailors and beachcombers will be found high tide, low tide and everything
    3. Burke Gilman Trail – ride or walk on this trail that will take you for miles and miles
    4. Sunset Hill – this little pocket park is the definitive place for a Seattle Sunset
    5. Shilshole Marina – enjoy a boardwalk stroll through this beautiful waterfront area and try to count the masts. Be sure and stop at the Leif Erickson statue for a taste of Scandinavian heritage.
    Leif Erickson Statue Ballard
    Leif Erickson

    So Many Things To Do

    Don’t miss any of these awesome things to do in Beautiful Ballard

    Nordic Heritage Museum Ballard
    Nordic Heritage Museum
    The locks Ballard
    Going through the locks on my son’s sailboat
    1. The National Nordic Museum – allow yourself a few hours to explore this amazing museum that chronicles the history of the Nordic people both locally and throughout the world. The cafe and gift shop are great too.
    2. Ballard Locks – officially the Hiram M. Chittenden Locks but known locally as the Ballard Locks is a fun and educational working locks that provides boat traffic to navigate between Lake Union and the Puget Sound. Don’t miss the information on the salmon ladder.
    3. Fisherman’s Terminal – a working fishing terminal for local fishing vessels, you can walk amongst the vessels in port and also purchase fresh seafood.
    4. Ballard Farmer’s Market – every Sunday from 9am to 2pm visit the Ballard Farmers Market for a colorful selection of fresh and locally made
    5. The Cycle Saloon Tours – Fun and crazy way to drink beer, get your exercise and see the sites
    6. Ballard Kayak Rentals – get out on Shilshole Bay and see the beautiful sites from the waterside
    Ballard Farmers Market
    The Ballard Farmer’s Market on Sundays

    Do You Brew?

    Beer? Coffee? Even a distillery is waiting for you in Ballard. Ya Sure YaBetcha, there is something for everyone. This is a tiny sample:

    Beers in Ballard
    1. Reubens Brews – Beer
    2. Stoup Brewing – Beer
    3. Lagunitas Brewing Co – Beer
    4. Heritage Distillery – serving up distilled liquors and mixed drinks
    5. Venture Coffee – Coffee
    6. Ballard Coffee Works – Coffee
    7. Woodland Coffee – Coffee
    8. Ballard Beer Company – Beer
    Heritage Distillery
    Ballard Coffee Works

    She Shops!

    To be honest, I’m not much of a shopper, preferring to spend my time outdoors, eating, learning history…all that stuff. BUT, you might like a few funky or vintage places and don’t miss a Scandinavian shop

    1. Scandinavian Specialties – one of the few shops left that focuses on delicious Scandinavian delicacies as well as, art, sweaters, ceramic and more.
    2. Gold Dog – for someone who doesn’t really shop….I spent some fun time in here. Cowboy boots and so much more.

    As Long As You Are Here…

    Ya sure yabetcha, as long as you are here definitely spend as much time as possible at any or all of these wonderful attractions near Ballard.

    Woodland Park Zoo Lowland Gorilla
    Woodland Park Zoo
    1. Woodland Park Zoo – not the zoo of yesteryear, today’s award winning Woodland Park Zoo is focused on conservation, preservation and immersion exhibits that provide animals a healthy and authentic living environment. Woodland Park Zoo also offers a variety of events and activities through out the year on it’s 92 acre urban site.
    2. Fremont – Ballard’s neighbor Fremont is Seattle’s answer to funky and fun claiming to be “the center of the universe”. Be sure to visit the Fremont Troll, JP Patches and Gertrude statue, Waiting for the Bus Sculpture and many other fun and quirky Fremont finds.
    3. Green Lake, just over the hill from Ballard is Seattle’s beloved Green Lake. A perfect place for a stroll or bike ride anytime of the year. Seattle gathers here.
    4. Gas Works Park – The idea to turn this huge former and simply ugly former gas works on Lake Union into a park was brilliant. Today the rusted “gas works” create an urban sculpture unique and beautiful in a strange and Seattle kind of way.
    Fremont Washington
    Funky Fremont

    Are You Convinced?

    Have I convinced you that it’s time to rediscover Ballard Washington? I have spent a lot of time there over the last five years, because my adult sons call it home. If they had never moved there, I would never have rediscovered Ballard myself…and I’m so glad I did. I still have a lot to see in Beautiful Ballard…so I’ll see you there.

    Learn more about Ballard at Visit Ballard

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    Reading Wednesday

    Book Review West with Giraffes by Lynda Rutledge

    Reading Wednesday

    I write a lot of book reviews, and tend to not write reviews for books I don’t like. This book I liked…inspirational at a time when I needed some feel good reading. Here is my book review West with Giraffes by Lynda Rutledge.

    Rutledge, an award winning freelance journalist, was inspired by newspaper articles from the 1930’s about two giraffes that caught the nations attention as they were transported across the USA. From this real life event, Rutledge built this fictional story.

    West with Giraffes finds young Woodrow Wilson Nickle lying in a gutter after a hurricane hits New Jersey. His unlikely survival continues a string of unlikely survival episodes in his young life…a story that will unfold as the plot develops. Woody maneuvers himself into being a driver to help “the old man” transport two giraffes as far as Memphis.

    The giraffes, affectionately known as the “darlings” may be the focus of this story, but the deeper story here is one of depression era survival, accepting ones past and finding ones future, life, death, love and coming of age. Isn’t this what all good books are made of?

    Moving two giraffes from New Jersey to San Diego by road in the 1930’s is no small undertaking, and during the 12 day odyssey Woody, the “old man” and Red, a female photographer who falls in with them, will encounter several adventures. Including several life and death situations. Thus Rutledge provides the reader with a heartfelt page turner.

    I enjoyed this book very much. I hope you enjoyed by book review West with Giraffes by Lynda Rutledge.

    ****Four stars for West with Giraffes by Lynda Rutledge

    Read last week’s review of Klara and the Sun

    My current read The Rose Code by Kate Quinn

    See this week’s top performing pin Nashville for First Timers here

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